Mark Zuckerberg was able to outmaneuver Congress last week. He gave a decent performance and I think we all need to admit why. Mark’s a robot. If you watched any of his testimony you know it’s true. Zuck’s a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, and while we may try, humans can’t match a robot in discipline, speed, and endurance. The Facebook team (the army of $1,500 an hour communications consultants) observed these flaws and effectively beat Congress.
There were a few heated exchanges, and poignant points on power & privacy made by senators Lindsey Graham, and Dick Durbin to name a few, however, no one could really maintain any meaningful dialogue for the allotted 5 minutes. Zuck always knew how to burn out the clock. He’s a robot remember. Each response was perfectly measured out to take up just enough time.
What Happens Now?
So Mark left capitol hill largely unscathed, saw an uptick in stock price, and while public opinion of Facebook continues to suffer, it wasn’t as bad as many, (including myself) thought it would be. But while the Facebook team was able to take a quick breath this is far from over. There’re a few more things Facebook will need to look out for.
I can’t help but think that the UK was watching the hearing last week and thought to themselves, “We’ll show you how a hearing is supposed to go.” While many of the headlines about Margrethe Vestager are regarding her threats of breaking up Google, she and the rest of the EU aren’t the fondest of Zuck. The UK’s already threatened Facebook with regulation if they don’t do better protecting users privacy, and I have a feeling the EU might just skip the hearing and give our robot more trouble.
Regulation may also come from another place at home. It’s been a suspicion by many that the source of regulation would come from the attorney general of a red state after realizing Facebook’s been a vessel of huge wealth transfer from the US to the rest of the world. Looks like someone’s stepped up to the challenge, as Missouri’s attorney general has launched an investigation into Facebook with other ag’s looking to pile on as well.
What Does this Mean for Advertisers?
As I watched the hearings last week I noticed I was watching from two very different perspectives. The first was from a Facebook user since 2006, who’d genuinely forgotten just how much information I’d handed over to Facebook. The second was as an advertiser wondering what happens next.
Multiple times during the hearing Zuck reiterated to lawmakers that Facebook would be applying the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to the business globally beginning May 25th. GDPR basically strives to protect user data every step of the way while the user has ultimate control.
So what does this mean for us, the advertisers? User complaints, even threaten, must be taken seriously when it applies to personal data. You have to have a report any suggestion of a complaint or challenge to Facebook. Additionally, campaign analytics and reports have to stay internal. You cannot use that information in presentations or case studies without consent from Facebook.
Also, pixel sharing is out. This has been a not so secret marketing tactic lately, however, Facebook’s putting an end to it. You can not place tracking pixels on sites that you have access to but don’t belong to you or your client.
Facebook’s facing some hard questions at the moment. They’ve even titled their latest blog post Hard Questions. This debate on user privacy is just beginning and I’m sure we’ll hear of additional developments in the next few months.